The Virginia women’s soccer team will make its first trip to the NCAA Women’s College Cup in 22 years after a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Michigan Friday night in front of 1,882 fans at Klöckner Stadium. The top-seeded Cavaliers (24-1) will make their second overall appearance in the sport’s showcase event next week, while the Wolverines (18-4-1) saw their record-setting season come to an end.
Junior midfielder Morgan Brian (St. Simons Island, Ga.) and senior defender Molly Menchel (Alexandria, Va.) scored for the Cavaliers, who became the first team to score multiple goals on the Wolverines this season.
Virginia will play either North Carolina or UCLA in the national semifinals next Friday at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
“I just want to start by saying how great our fans were tonight, as I think I they were the difference tonight,” said head coach Steve Swanson. “Michigan was fantastic. It was not a one-sided game; I thought they played very well and very hard. It was hard enough scoring one goal against them, let alone two. They were every bit what we thought they would be: hard-working, and they had a lot of grit. I want to congratulate them on a great season. It feels good because we know we beat a good team to advance.”
Virginia controlled play from the start and took the lead in the 24th minute of play. Sophomore forward Makenzy Doniak (Chino Hills, Calif.) slipped a through ball to Brian, who one-timed a shot to inside the post for her 16th goal of the season. Brian, who scored her school-record eighth career NCAA Tournament goal, has scored in each of Virginia’s postseason victories this year.
The lead was short-lived as the Wolverines answered just four minutes later. Nkem Ezurike sent a cross into the box that Meghan Toohey collected and fired into the next for her sixth goal of the season. Despite Virginia outshooting Michigan 15-2 over the first 45 minutes, the game went into halftime tied at 1-1.
The Cavaliers continued to pressure the Wolverine end in the second half and finally retook the lead in the 68th minute. Junior midfielder Danielle Colaprico (Freehold, N.J.) delivered a ball to the back post that Menchel tried to collect, but her trap attempt beat the Michigan keeper and went off the post. From the ground, Menchel was able to tap the ball over the line on the rebound for her sixth goal of the season. That proved to be the game-winner, as the Virginia defense held strong the rest of the way to preserve the 2-1 victory.
“At the end of the day, the great thing is we get to stay together as a team,” said Swanson. “It’s one thing to get to this last stage and it’s another thing to win it. We want to win it. We are going to be very focused on our next game.”
Overall, Virginia outshot Michigan 22-4 and had a 7-2 corner kick advantage. First-year goalkeeper Morgan Stearns (San Antonio, Texas) made one save in goal for Virginia, posting her school-record 19th victory of the season. Taylor Bucklin made four saves at the other end for Michigan.
Virginia is one of three ACC schools to already advance to Cary, with North Carolina having the opportunity Saturday to make it a sweep for the conference. Florida State will play Virginia Tech in one semifinal with Virginia playing the North Carolina/UCLA winner. The semifinal times are 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., with the order of the games to be announced later this weekend.